George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Rutherford, 12 November 1793

From John Rutherford

Lauder-east-mains [Scotland],
November 12th 1793.

Hon. Sir

The very high esteem I have ever had for your excellency, as a Personage of the greatest abilities and integrity, encourages me to present you with this. It becomes me, as a stranger, to ask pardon for this my freedom, but I am fully persuaded that such are your views of Humanity, and of the Duties which we owe to each other as fellow citizens of the great theatre of the Universe that I shall readily obtain remission. Having no acquaintance on the great continent of America, I thought proper to apply to the fountain-head, not doubting but that I should acquire the necessary information from so exalted a character. I was informed by a person, who had read an American Paper, that a Person of the name of Andrew Mien, son of Andrew Mien in Maryland, died some time ago, possessed of a considerable fortune without Heirs. He was a native of North-Britain, had been in America for many years, and joined the united forces of that country during the late unhappy contest with Great-Britain. Andrew Mien Senior was married to a Native of America, and his son was born there. As my Wife is Sister to Andrew Mien Senior, I should consider it as the highest obligation, would your excellency cause inquiry be made whether such a person is dead or living.1 A line directed to John Rutherford, Lauder-east-mains, near Lauder, by Edinburgh, North-Britain, by your excellency’s order, would be deemed a singular honour and favour, by, Hon. Sir, Your excellency’s most obedient, and most humble servt &c.

John Rutherford.

ALS, DLC:GW. The letter, which was stamped “KELSO,” was addressed to GW at New York.

1Rutherford evidently was referring to the family of Andrew Mein (died c.1770) of Talbot County, Md., who married Ann Walker. GW asked Maryland congressman William Vans Murray to look into this matter, and Murray wrote GW on 16 May 1794 to report that Andrew Mein “resided in Talbot County on the Eastern shore of Maryland—He died about twenty years since—& left a son who came to the age of twenty one about three years since & died—leaving a will by which a few legacies excepted he devised a landed & other property of near five thousand pounds value to Mr Peter Edminston, his Executor of Caroline County, E. Shore of Maryland. This young gentlemen (Mr Mein) was heir to Mr Andrew Mein—and had the sole right to the estate—The family of Mein is now extinct in Maryland—This information I have obtained from Doctor Potter of Caroline County who was well Known to young Mein.

“I have written to the Executor Edminston but he has not yet answered my letter” (ALS, DLC:GW).

Peter Edmondson subsequently reported to Murray, “Mr Andrew Mein has been dead about twenty years last fall, he left a widow and one son, he willed all his estate to his Son, he lived till he was about twenty-two years old—he died & Willed all his real estate to me both in America & Scotland there was a small farm near Edinburgh which his father willed to him which I have understood was worth between six or seven hundred pounds Sterling—Mr Andrew Mein Junior’s mother died Some years before he did—There did not appear that old Mr Mein left any personal Estate—he was also a good deal in debt There is also a british debt now depending in the General Court should it be recovered will take all the lands that old Mr Mein left” (quoted in Murray to GW, 4 June 1794, DLC:GW).

Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., replied to Rutherford in a letter of 18 June 1794: “In answer to the enquiry made in your Letter of the 12 Novr ’93 to the President of the United States, he has directed me to transmit to you the copies of two letters herewith enclosed, which contain all the information the President can obtain relative to Mr Mien. These letters are from a member of the Congress of the United States from the State of Maryland, & the information may be relied on. The public occupations of the President do not permit him to spend much time in enquiries of this nature” (ViMtvL).

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